(4.4) Wholehearted Living and Badassery

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This section is a dear one to my heart. It’s really a summary of the most important things that I’ve learned from researcher Brené Brown.

  1. We are all doing the very best we can, at each moment. We can also dig deep and do better in the next moment.
  2. Shame, the fear that we don’t belong, is in all of us, to a greater or lesser extent. We basically all have it and most of us are afraid to talk about it. To have no shame at all is actually sociopathic. That doesn’t mean we should constantly be trying to fit in. But it means that we evolved as a social species, and belonging is a truly powerful need.
  3. Recognizing and leveraging our experience of shame to be useful is a learned skill.
  4. Badassery comes from being authentic, from seeing our problems as challenges that we can rise to, learn from, and in so doing, gain in compassion and wisdom.
  5. When get the idea of ‘making’ someone feel a certain way, it’s usually because that’s how we are feeling. That can be our own triggered history or it could be that the person was doing it on purpose.
  6. Brown has three steps to address the times when we realize we are taken over by defenses, mired in shame: Rumble, Reckoning, and Revolution. First we Rumble with our emotions, realizing we have been hit by a wall of shame or anger or whatever. Then we start to take control by consciously going through the Reckoning, where we own our story.Write out the storyline in your head that’s driving the emotion. Brown calls this a “shitty first draft.” Write out everything, as much as you can. Example lines from that story: “Everybody hates me, I’ll never fit in.” “She wants to feel terrible because I didn’t do this for her.” You can also share the story with a trusted friend or therapist who will let you just talk it through, rather than jumping to your aid or denying your story while you’re still in the process of revising it. Then comes the Revolution, where you rewrite the story, reframe it to a more realistic point of view and a better ending. NVC skills have come in very handy for me in this step.I can’t do proper justice to this technique, and I highly recommend that you read one or more of Brown’s excellent books, starting with Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. I also love her other books, including Daring Greatly, which is important to read if you have things you want to bring into the world–ideas, objects, techniques. It’s a book about vulnerability and it’s also really good for running a business or organization (like an animal shelter).
  7. Without vulnerability, we cannot create. We cannot thrive. Armoring up against negative experiences also blocks out creativity, growth, love, belonging, joy, trust, and empathy. Learning how to recover and even thrive after experiencing pain, loss, and shame is a Superpower, because now I don’t have to worry about experiencing them. I have learned how to allow myself to be vulnerable to connection. Connecting to other people (and myself) gives my life purpose. Brown’s work is a big part of that.

Here are a couple of great videos of Brown speaking.